Jonathan urges military to respect human rights in the fight against terrorism
President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday in Abuja urged the military to abide by the rules of engagement and have respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism.
Jonathan, who was the Reviewing Officer and the Special Guest of Honour, made the call at the parade to mark the grand finale of the 2013 Nigerian Army Day Celebration.
He said that he was pleased that the initial assessment report of the conduct of military operations since the declaration of emergency rule revealed that the strategies had been well thought out and was progressing satisfactorily.
President Goodluck Jonathan (centre) inspecting parade during the Nigerian Army Day Celebration in Abuja On Saturday (6/7/13)
He said that government services and private businesses had resumed in areas previously occupied by the insurgents, adding that the people in those areas were gradually regaining their lives in confidence.
'As we march forward, I urge you to continue to abide by the Army hallow practice and core character of service.
'I also urge you to keep to the rules of engagement, especially respect for human rights in all your operational activities.
'In the current stabilising phase of your operations, the welfare and wellbeing of the people of the communities where you live and work must be your primary focus,'' Jonathan said.
The president urged the military to defend the citizens and foreigners living in the country against terrorist elements.
He also advised the military to strengthen its collaboration and synergy with other security agencies and friendly partner nations to enhance their effectiveness.
'Terrorism is anti-people; it is anti-progress and we must stamp it out of our nation.
'This administration firm resolve is to do everything in our constitutional powers to ensure the security and safety of all law abiding citizens.
'It is a commitment that we have made and kept with great dedication, and we will continue to keep it,'' Jonathan said.
Jonathan assured the Nigerian Army and all the members of the armed forces of the commitment of his administration to their wellbeing.
He pledged that government would continue to support the armed forces and meet their needs.
'I want to specially congratulate you, your spouses and families on this important anniversary.
'I want to thank them for standing by you as you serve our nation. Nigeria deeply appreciates your sacrifice,'' the president said.
The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada, said that the celebration came at a time when the country was contending with terrorism and other security challenges which were novel to its national history.
She said that the theme of the celebration, 'Enhancing the Nigerian Army Capacity Building Effort towards Improved National Security'' could not have come at a better time.
She said that in spite of the threat posed by terrorist, the army and other security agencies had made considerable progress in the maintenance of law and order and security of lives and properties.
In his speech, the FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed, said that in view of the current security challenges facing the country, the army should increase surveillance to reduce criminal tendencies by miscreants.
He said that his administration would encourage the army through the provision of logistics and vehicles and other assistance necessary to achieve a crime free society in the FCT and its environs.
Earlier the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, said the celebration was an annual event.
According to him, the celebration will provide the army the opportunity to showcase its rich history, values and modest achievement.
Ihejirika added that the celebration would also provide opportunity for the army to engender public awareness of its capability and readiness to defend the nation in consonance with its constitutional role.
'The choice of July 6th every year is symbolic as the first shot of the Nigerian Civil War was fired in Gakem, Cross River state on July 6 1967
'The day was chosen to put into our consciousness the need to promote peace and unity in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event, which marked 150 years of the existence of the Nigerian Army, witnessed the presentation of award to 21 officers for their outstanding performance.
The celebration also witnessed parades, displays; march past by the different army corps and display of equipment among others. (NAN)